New study suggests that parents who use or approve of e-cigarettes may actually encourage adolescents to use it or smoke traditional cigarettes.
The study from the University of Southern California found that teenagers in their research were more likely to use e-cigarettes than the traditional ones, demonstrated by the rising acceptance and use of the device since its debut in 2007.
While there was a growing concern among experts that e-cigarettes may encourage teenagers to use traditional cigarettes in the long run, 41% of the respondents who used e-cigs stated that they had never used or smoked regular cigarettes.
Previous studies have shown that the use of e-cigarettes is higher than regular cigarettes among high school students, with a decline in regular cigarette usage from 2011 to 2014. The difference between e-cig and regular cigarette usage is really not that big, though.
On the other hand, while the effects of parent and peer approval and use on teenager use of regular cigarette is well studied, the same cannot be said to e-cigarettes.
On this light, the researchers studied the data gathered by the Southern California Children’s Health Study covering electronic and traditional cigarette use and behaviors of friends and family. The 2,084 respondents were from 11th– and 12th-grade students.
Twenty four percent or 499 of the participants admitted having used e-cigarettes. Of these number, 200 participants have used e-cig within the past 30 days. Significantly fewer stated having smoked regular cigarettes, with only 18.7% or 390 of the participants of which 5.7% used it in the past month.
The study discovered that e-cig use was highest among the participants with the most number of friends who are also into the device and with closest friends who are in favor of e-cigarettes. Researchers suggest that e-cigarette use is strongly linked to the psychosocial factors concerning both types of cigarettes.
Social environments that favored the use of e-cigarette were more common than that of the traditional cigarettes. Which explains the significantly large number of e-cigarette users (91%) who believed that their peers approve of their habit, compared to only roughly 76% of regular cigarette users.
While many of the respondents believed that both types of cigarettes were harmful to their health, about 14% do not share the same view – including roughly half of the current users. Compared to only 1.4% who believed the same applies to regular cigarettes.
Also, the study suggests that both the electronic and regular cigarettes share some common social risk features, with a social setting that sees e-cigarettes strongly connected with the use of both types cigarettes. These may increase the chance for the “re-normalization” of tobacco products in general, the researchers said.
This explains the growing concern between public health communities that e-cigarettes may be recruiting a new group of individuals who never smoked traditional cigarettes. At the present, the study cannot confirm whether or not this is the case.
The study does not distinguished between regular users of e-cigarettes and those who only experimented with the device. Further study is needed to discover the long term effects of e-cig use and whether it will lead to the re-normalization of traditional cigarettes.